For most, a pay raise has no effect on happiness

"Continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness," said behavioral scientist Christopher Boyce.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 10, 2016 at 8:00 PM

STIRLING, Scotland, March 10 (UPI) -- New research suggests income has little to no effect on happiness.

Researchers from the University of Stirling in Scotland and the University of Nottingham in England surveyed 18,000 adults from England and Germany about their life satisfaction. All of the survey participants had recently experienced a change in income.

The results showed only for a minority of people did an income loss affect a person's life satisfaction or happiness. People who received a raise were not happier as a result.

Those who were "conscientious" -- who described their approach to life and work as focused and energetic, their daily routine as effective and efficient -- were more likely to report a reduction in happiness as a result of lost income.

"It is often assumed that as our income rises so does our life satisfaction, however, we have discovered this is not the case," lead researcher Christopher Boyce, a behavioral scientist at Stirling, said in a news release. "What really matters is when income is lost and this is only important for people who are highly conscientious."

Boyce and his colleagues say their study -- published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin -- accounts for those who are joining or leaving the work force, or who are affected by changes in health or a social shakeup, like a divorce or death in the family.

"Continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness and well-being for most people living in economically developed countries," Boyce added. "Instead, we should aim for financial stability to achieve greater happiness, while protecting those individuals who experience negative income shocks."

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